Protect The Light


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

-Martin Luther King

I woke up this morning and the world felt different. I looked at my phone and it was filled with notifications from CNN of the tragedy that occurred in Dallas last night. The world was yet again filled with violence being met with violence, hatred being met with hatred. My eyes filled with tears and my first thought was “where is the light?”

I pulled myself up in my bed, wiped my eyes and glanced to my nightstand where one of my favorite pictures of my niece and nephew sit. There it is! There is the light! But, I didn’t feel relief. I only felt further fear that we have created a world that will extinguish their light.

Two days ago it appears men were killed because of the color of their skin. Yesterday it appears men were killed because of the color of their skin and their profession. When did killing become our immediate response? I don’t pretend to know all of the details of every case that has arisen these last few years. The reality is the details do not matter anymore. Meeting hate with hate, violence with violence, and killing with killing does not make our world safe.

As I was gathering my thoughts I was so overcome with emotion it surprised me a little. While my heart hurt for everyone involved, I did not know them personally. It was somewhat of an unusual response for me. Then I realized it wasn’t sadness I was feeling. It was hopelessness. I am a very optimistic and at times naive person, but this morning I felt there was not a thing I or anyone else could do.

I teach the parents I work with that when their child is dysregulated and in a complete tantrum do not try to talk them, they physically cannot hear you. These people with so much hate in their hearts cannot hear me. When they see our inspirational quotes, hear our prayers or see our tears they remain unaffected because their darkness is too dark. Hopeless. I sat in my car waiting for a meeting, feeling the weight of the hopelessness. Then it hit me:

I have no idea how to relight the darkness, but I do know how to shine my light.

Not only do I know how to shine my light but, I can shine it brighter and I can encourage and protect anyone else whose light shines with me. We enter this world with a light of pure innocence, a blank slate that does not know the difference between black, white, Hispanic, Asian, gay, straight, transgender, rich or poor. All we know in that first moment is love.

My niece and nephew, that light shining on my nightstand this morning, do not even notice skin color. They see a friend to play with, they see a person. I’m not asking you to teach them anything. I’m asking you to learn from them. I’m asking you to protect their light. Do not let others hatred breed hate in them. Encourage them to hold on to that innocence, give people chances and see beyond the hate.

The rest of my day has been spent smiling, waving and saying hello to everyone I see. And I’ll admit my grin has been wider to those whose skin looks different than mine. For a moment I worried I looked like a fool and was overdoing it, but then I realized I did not care. I want my light to shine like a child’s. Innocent, genuine and hopeful. I want to spread love so it continues to spread to others whose light may be feeling dim.

I will not pay attentions to those in the dark. I will not respond to your hateful Facebook status, I will not debate with you when I know you cannot hear my words. I will only protect my light and continue to shine.

My challenge to you is to do the same. Do not let others darkness extinguish your light. Spread more love, more joy, more patience, more understanding, more empathy, more kindness and more light until it is too bright for the dark to win.

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© 2020 by Jenny Matern